(urth) The poor Aelf

Chris rasputin_ at hotmail.com
Thu Sep 27 11:16:44 PDT 2007

> You seem to take the point of view that the purpose of worship is to
> flatter your way into a happy afterlife. I think the Neo-Platonic
> view is that the Aelf should worship humans because they'll be better
> off that way right now. That by refusing to worship and devote
> themselves to that which is higher and better, they just make
> themselves miserable and unfulfilled. It is an intrinsic rather than
> an extrinsic reward.
> Wolfe's critique of this worldview seems to be that beings at any
> level would be happier (in the Aristotelian sense) if they were to aim
> higher still. If humans were to set their aspirations, their ideals,
> their worship higher than the Valfather, they might achieve something
> greater than the knightly virtues.
> Rostrum

I am not sure I can buy into the Wizard Knight as a treatise on metaphysics.

I suppose this mixes up the macro/microcosm a bit, but I thought that what this inverted order was really supposed to illuminate was the glorification of our baser drives and desires within the individual. And particularly Able's worship of Disiri as a sort of glorification of Romantic love in all its more degenerate forms. Able has love, but it is fixated on all the wrong things and there is, at bottom, nothing (but garbage) once you're able to see through its surface glamour. The interesting twist is of course that Able is able (heh) to uplift this love to something genuine in the end.

At least, I really hope that's what's going on there: that Disiri represents Able's inner love (or ideal thereof), and not the actual object of that love. I find the assumption that you can "redeem" someone, change their nature by sort of imposing your own will, quite patronizing and not necessarily a great idea (I keep thinking of Larry's attempt to "fix" that girl in The Razor's Edge).

In any event I read WK on sort of a double level as a story in which the protagonist needs to not only overcome (and restore to their proper order in the soul) the darker instincts and desires that drive him, but also in a way reconcile himself to their existence - not to suppress them but to integrate and uplift them. I think you can see this process going on over the course of the books.
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